Chocolate: Episode 7
It’s been a while since our brooding neurosurgeon smiled this much. Though he’s still determined to return to Geosung Hospital, he’s starting to see that he could contribute so much to the hospice if he just cared a little more. And he’s not the only one; there are plenty of other people who could benefit by putting in a little more effort.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
Kang and Cha-young share a sweet moment sitting by the water, when out of nowhere, Tae-hyun comes along and joins them. Looking at the couple knowingly, Tae-hyun says, “We must really be fated, hyung.” They both look at him like he’s gone crazy, HAHA.
Tae-hyun starts singing and rambling that they’ll be in-laws soon, making Cha-young jump up and drag her little bro out of there. She doesn’t smell alcohol on him, so she demands to know why he’s spewing nonsense.
Tae-hyun grins and says that he totally approves of her getting with her first love. Cha-young gasps, horrified that he discovered Kang’s identity, and begs him to keep quiet. Naturally, Tae-hyun refuses until Cha-young promises money in return.
By the time Cha-young gets back to the water, Kang and his memorial setup are already gone. She hangs her head in disappointment. Meanwhile, in front of the hospice, a taxi pulls up and drops someone off — Ji-yong’s mother. She recalls Cha-young’s tearful speech about this being Ji-yong’s last year and crouches to the ground, overcome with emotion herself.
That morning, Director Kwon enters Kang’s office and sees that he spent the night there. Kwon also notices the three empty soju bottles and sighs, knowing yesterday was the anniversary of the department store collapse. Unfortunately, he says, accidents like that repeat themselves because people don’t reflect on them properly. “You have to remember what happened to reflect on it,” he tells Kang, “which you must do to be able to protect those who are alive.”
Director Kwon offers to get Kang some hangover soup, but seeing that this “soup” is actually instant noodles, Kang makes up an excuse and leaves (hee). Kang wanders outside and finds Cha-young and Seon-ae gathering dried sweet potatoes.
He overhears Cha-young revealing that these snacks are her favorite because she’d once stumbled upon them when she was practically starving. Seon-ae states that the potatoes taste even better when made into a sujebi (hand-torn noodle soup).
To Cha-young’s excitement, Seon-ae says that she’ll make her some. Kang then steps forward and asks if Seon-ae could make him a bowl too. Though she’s surprised by his request, she smiles warmly.
Seon-ae gets to work on the soup, with Cha-young looking over her shoulder like an enchanted kid. And in the cafeteria, Kang remembers when he was a kid and he would watch his mom make her own sujebi recipe. He smiles fondly at the memory, only to break out of it when Cha-young arrives with his food.
As Kang digs in, a nervous Cha-young apologizes for her brother’s behavior last night, lying that he was drunk. Kang interrupts, saying if this is about Tae-hyun calling them in-laws, he’s already erased it from his mind. He then gets a phone call and has to leave without finishing his food.
Kang joins nurse Young-shil in Ye-sol’s mom’s room, where Ye-sol’s dad is rushing to pack their belongings. Dad wants to take them to a more expensive doctor who promised to heal Mom — an alternative doctor who’s most likely a quack, Young-shil whispers to Kang.
Kang warns Dad that he’ll just put his wife through more suffering and waste their money. Dad snaps that anything is better than watching Kang do nothing while Mom slowly dies. And with Kang’s credentials, Dad expected more. “Why did you become a doctor if you’re not going to help your patients?” he snaps.
Kang’s hand starts to tremble, but before he can argue, Director Kwon comes in and orders him to let them go. Kang turns to leave, stopping at the sight of Ye-sol crying by the door. Looking ashamed, he walks past Ye-sol without a word.
At Geosung Hospital, Joon and his mom watch as his dad eats his lunch without a care in the world. Mom talks to Joon in (hilariously deadpan) French so Dad won’t understand, saying that after Dad’s outburst, his dirty secrets, like his false admission into university, are sure to come out and ruin the family.
Joon then gets a phone call, and hearing Hee-joo’s voice, he immediately lets himself out. Hee-joo explains that she got his number from Cha-young; she wanted to know if he could come visit her at the hospice.
His eyes filling with tears, Joon thinks back to the time they first met. High schooler Joon would stop by the art room and secretly watch Hee-joo working on her pottery. One day, she caught him peeking and invited him inside, and he answered, “I’m afraid that I’ll come to like [you].”
Flustered, he said that he meant he was afraid of liking pottery since he has to focus on studying. Still, he allowed himself to come in and watch for a few minutes. He’d avert his eyes whenever she felt him staring, but he eventually stopped and smiled instead, making her smile back. Aww.
Back at the hospice, Cha-young is shucking clams in the kitchen, remembering Kang’s last words to her. She gets so distracted that she ends up cutting herself, which is when someone takes her knife and sits across from her. Ji-yong’s mom takes over, and Cha-young’s look of shock shifts into happy relief.
Meanwhile, Kang gets a visit from Ji-yong, who’s dressed up as the most adorable astronaut ever. Ji-yong announces that his mom bought him the costume and that they’ll be living together from now on. All he needs is a spaceship, as he’s determined to go to space rather than heaven.
Ji-yong then gives Kang the Quiznos sandwich that Cha-young always buys for him, saying he doesn’t need it now that he’s happy. Kangs asks him, “Do I look unhappy to you?” and he bluntly answers, “Yes. A little.”
Later, Kang takes a bite of the sandwich and remembers the day that little Cha-young came to his mom’s restaurant. When he was preparing the chocolate truffles, his mom had come in and asked if liked the girl. He denied this and explained that the girl seemed unhappy and that chocolate truffles make anyone happy.
Young-shil stops by Director Kwon’s office, sporting a hanbok that Ms. Bong (Suk-ja’s guardian) gave her. She starts joking that he should see her as a woman, despite the fact that she’s his friend’s younger sister. As the two bicker, Seon-ae watches from the other side of the door, holding a tray of food. She eventually turns and walks away.
Outside, Ms. Bong gifts Tae-hyun the hanbok’s matching shoes, and he points out that they’re for women. He assumes that there’s some kind of family conflict going on for her to be giving this stuff out, provoking Ms. Bong to leave all huffy.
Cha-young visits Hee-joo to give her a little makeover. Cha-young insists that Hee-joo looks better without the makeup and fancy clothes, but Hee-joo doesn’t want to look like a patient when reuniting with Joon. She also doesn’t want to meet in the hospital; she’d rather have a nice date out by a nearby lake.
Cha-young waits with Hee-joo, who thanks her for all the delicious food she’s provided. Hee-joo and her husband used to work themselves so hard that they’d only eat as necessity, but after trying Cha-young’s food, she felt a new kind of comfort. She had warm thoughts like “It’s okay” and “You led a good life.”
A voice behind them calls out, “Noona,” and Cha-young turns to see Joon holding flowers. She then leaves to give Joon and Hee-joo some privacy.
After some small talk about Cha-young’s cooking, Hee-joo apologizes for ignoring Joon’s feelings. But she thinks he lucked out — her husband had a really difficult time taking care of her. Joon is silent before admitting that he’s embarrassed that she knew of his crush this whole time. She apologizes again, as well as thanks him, hoping he meets a healthy girl later on.
As Joon is walking back to his car, he turns back with a conflicted expression. And out in the garden, where Cha-young is working, she remembers Hee-joo’s words of wanting to look pretty, as if she were going on a last trip. Getting a terrible feeling, she starts heading over to the lake. Back at the hospice, a nurse rushes into Kang’s office and reveals that she found a full bottle of sleeping pills under Hee-joo’s bed. Oh no. No, no, no, no.
Kang and the medical staff are frantic searching for Hee-joo, but no one (except Cha-young and Joon) knows where she is. Joon runs into Kang outside, just as Kang calls Hee-joo’s name, and asks why he’s looking for her.
We cut back to Hee-joo’s wheelchair, now empty save for Joon’s flowers. Hee-joo is now walking towards shore, her arms outstretched to guide herself. Cha-young finally arrives and cries out when she sees Hee-joo submerge herself underwater.
Cha-young jumps into the lake and reaches Hee-joo, but she’s not strong enough to drag her out. Just then, Kang arrives and dives into the water, too, helping Cha-young carry the unconscious Hee-joo back to shore.
Joon comes running, stopping in his tracks when he sees them coming out of the water. Kang performs CPR on Hee-joo, with Cha-young sobbing by his side and Joon helplessly standing over him. All three are dripping with emotion, willing Hee-joo to live, as the sun sets behind them.
Once she’s stable, Hee-joo is taken back to her room and her husband (who’s on business in Jeju Island) is notified of her condition. Director Kwon looks over her, crying, and asks how she could be so selfish.
Cha-young returns to the kitchen shivering, and a worried Seon-ae chides her for jumping in when she could’ve gotten hurt. “I was also able to survive back then,” Cha-young says, smiling, “because people tried to help me regardless of how dangerous it was.”
Exhausted, Kang trudges out of the room and finds Joon leaning on the wall. He informs Joon that Hee-joo is conscious and then goes on his way. Once he’s gone, Joon pulls himself together and heads inside.
Hearing the footsteps, Hee-joo asks who’s there. Joon doesn’t answer, so Hee-joo assumes that he’s her husband. She apologizes, saying that she didn’t want to burden him when he’d already given up so much. She figured if she was going to die, she might as well die sooner and set him free.
Joon holds back tears as he dryly says that he’s touched. She sits up at the sound of his voice, and he continues that he came back for his final goodbye. “I regret liking you,” he says, his voice quiet. “Even if I hear of your death, I’m not going to your funeral. I’m not going to cry.”
If Hee-joo wants to die by taking her own life, Joon thinks she doesn’t deserve to be reborn as anything. He bids her farewell and stalks out, making her break out in tears.
Cha-young tells Seon-ae that she’d rather have a nice, warm bowl of soup rather than an IV injection. As she’s eating her soup, she thinks back to Kang jumping into the lake and Kang performing CPR. And what we didn’t see before — Kang glancing over at the sobbing Cha-young to make sure she’s okay.
Cha-young looks around for Kang, eventually passing the nurses’ station and overhearing Young-shil tell Director Kwon that Kang might need an IV injection, too. So Cha-young heads outside to continue searching for him, unaware that he’s actually on the roof, looking down at her.
Min-yong joins Kang by the ledge and follows his gaze. But Kang tells him not to call out to Cha-young.
When Min-yong asks why, Kang answers, “I want to know what this is. Someone keeps bothering me. I want to avoid [her], but I keep worrying and thinking about [her]. What do you think this is?”
“The Zika virus?” Min-yong tosses in. Kang looks at him and asks how he should treat it. To that, Min-yong states he should get a vaccination and get rid of the virus; he should know since he’s a doctor. LOL.
Kang finally heads down and meets Cha-young by his car, where she’s been waiting. He acts distant towards her, but something does shift in him when she asks if he’s okay. He offers to drive her home, but she tells him that Tae-hyun will be picking her up.
With nothing left to say, Kang simply gets in his car and drives off. He keeps his eyes on Cha-young in the rearview mirror until she’s no longer visible. He thinks back to all the times when he’d tried to stay mad at her but worried instead.
Even when he was focusing on saving Hee-joo, he couldn’t help but worry as Cha-young cried. “Min-sung,” he narrates. “I think I’ve lost my way.”
I’ve said it and I’ll say it again — I’m loving the hospice setting. With the trifecta of serene music, lovely cinematography, and nuanced acting, the hospice seems like an entirely different world, separate from everything else. But I guess for some, living in this world is like purgatory. I was sad to see Ye-sol and her family go, especially knowing that they’re probably falling into a scam. Kang was about to argue that there was no curing Ye-sol’s mom, but that’s never what the family wants to hear. I think it’s an interesting conflict that doctors have to go through, deciding whether to be brutally honest or hopeful. Surely, there must be some way to be both. At least we have Ji-yong and his family back together. I don’t think their troubles are over, but all that matters is that Ji-yong is happy. I never thought I’d appreciate PPL in a drama, but the sandwich bit with Kang was actually quite precious.
Kang’s flashback to his younger self and his chocolate theory (which is so true, at least for me) was interesting juxtaposed with him today. Every tragedy in his life, from his mom to his best friend to his lost career, has chipped any and all happiness from him. And having been reserved and closed off in the first place, he shows no effort to get that happiness back. He resisted joining his mom in the afterlife most likely to prove a point and take his place as Geosung’s owner. But — and listen closely, Kang-ah — I’m sure Mom would want him to use his time on Earth rediscovering his happiness. Maybe that’s returning to cooking, or maybe that’s becoming the best doctor that he can be. And by “best,” I don’t mean the best in Grandma’s eyes. Then, of course, maybe he can get that cold heart beating again with some romance.
The romance is happening very slowly, so much so that it’s practically in the sidelines, but I kind of like it that way. It makes sense with our two heroes’ personalities and it mirrors their childhood meeting nicely. Kang felt something for Cha-young when they were kids and he reacted by taking care of her with food. Like he said then, it probably wasn’t love, but it was definitely something. And now, he’s starting to get those feelings again, with no clue as to what they mean. When he does figure out what they mean, I hope he doesn’t instinctively close up again.
Since we’re talking about doctors who shut people out, we might as well talk about Joon. He shut out Kang and now he’s shut out Hee-joo, when really, there are worse people he should be cutting out of his life. After his failed surgery and Hee-joo’s suicide attempt, he’s just as lost as Kang. It’s like the cousins are walking along the same path but are separated by some kind of barrier. I’m not sure if his harsh goodbye to Hee-joo was due to strong emotions, but it felt unfair for him and her. For one, Joon (and surprisingly, Director Kwon) thinking that her suicide attempt was selfish annoyed me. I understand his anger, but to let go of his first and possibly only love that way? He wasn’t just hurting her; he was hurting himself.
I hope we’re not done with Joon and Hee-joo’s story, because they both deserve some closure. And maybe this is a stretch, but I hope we’re not done with Ye-sol’s family’s story either. Though Hee-joo was right in that she and everybody else in the hospice are going to die sooner or later, being in the hospice doesn’t necessarily have to feel like a death sentence. Thank goodness for a number of characters that use up their own energy to help others stay positive. It’s the kids like Ji-yong, the nurses like Young-shil, and the chefs like Cha-young that keep these patients’ spirits alive.
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